Politically Partisan Pastors

Over the last week I have seen one red, gray and blue graphic more than any other.  It seeks to tell the complex story of pastoral political affiliation in the United States in a single image. The widely shared graphic comes from Kevin Quealy's June 12 New York Times article "Your Rabbi? Probably a Democrat. Your Baptist Pastor? Probably a Republican. Your Priest? Who Knows."  Quealy's article reports on the most ambitious research of its kind, which was undertaken by Eitan D. Hersh and Read More …

The Immigrants Creed

I have heard about immigrants more often this year than any year since I worked in the field of refugee resettlement in the 1990s. As a student of history, I know that the country I have called home for my entire life - America - is a land of immigrants.  Without immigration, I would not reside here today. As a person of faith, I am committed to welcoming, valuing, and loving all people.  As a Christian love of neighbor is a fundamental faith practice. The United Church of Christ explains Read More …

Where’s Greg Worshipping?

Over the last twelve and a half months, I have attended 45 worship services in 34 different congregations. Denominations The chart at right illustrates the number of churches I have visited by denominational affiliation (green), the number of services I have attended in congregations affiliated with each denomination (blue), and the percent of all worship services I have attended by denomination (yellow). 75% of all of my worship experiences have occurred in congregations affiliated Read More …

View from the Pew: 8 Sacred Spaces

Soon after relocating to Texas in September of 2015, I wrote "In Search of a Church," explaining a bit about the process my wife and I were undertaking to find a new community of faith to call our own.  During this process, I have posted a "view from the pew" photo most weeks on Facebook and Twitter. As someone who has spent most of his life working in a church and a good deal of that time in pastoral leadership, my ability to visit other congregations has been limited (and especially limited Read More …

Church Shopping: Not Happening Today

Almost a month ago I preached my last sermon as a Transitional Pastor before relocating across the country to start a new job in healthcare.  This change led my wife and I to begin our search for a church near our new home. The first Sunday we did not attend church as I was busy moving.  The next Sunday my wife and I visited a nearby Lutheran congregation (ELCA). The third Sunday we visited a local Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregation.  Today we will not be in church since I am traveling for Read More …

Mainline: Lacking Racial Diversity

Race related topics have been featured in the news more in recent months than any time I can recall.  Mainline Protestants generally tend to have healthy perspectives on race.  Such philosophical and even theological understandings do not necessarily translate into action (for example: read my summary and reflection of Bradley Wright's recent research showing that Mainline Protestant congregations had the highest rate of discrimination to prospective visitors) nor do they lead to racially Read More …

Popular Presbyterians

Last week I happened upon a chart showing how common certain words related to mainline Protestantism appeared in the New York Times.   I was immediately intrigued to see that Presbyterians have received better coverage than others since 1860 and that the use of the term peaked in 1937, appearing that year in 2,149 articles. After determining how to create my own charts, I made one reflecting the names of the four traditions with which I have had formal affiliation:  Christian Church Read More …

Learning from Trader Joe’s

Becca Messman, associate pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church (Herndon, VA), recently wrote about how the church could learn from her favorite grocery store: Trader Joe's.  Her piece, published in the Presbyterian Outlook, considers how Presbyterians would do well to study this "quirky, small-by-design chain of grocery stores that is clearly not trying to be any of its competitors."  Her suggestions, of course, transcend her denominational affiliation. Messman recommends that churches learn Read More …

Fencing Out the Homeless

On any given night, many homeless people sleep in an alley between Central Presbyterian Church (Atlanta, GA) and the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Those who do so not only feel safer than they do in other parts of the city, but also have direct access to the many outreach services provided by these congregations. Recently, however, the governing body of Central Presbyterian voted in favor of a proposal to build a fence to keep homeless people out of their alley.  This Read More …

Christian Youth: Learning and Living the Faith

Princeton Theological Seminary was recently awarded a $1.1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to fund a study that will "provide church leaders with strategies to help children connect with their religion."  This study of confirmation in five denominations - United Methodist, Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran, Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal - will include two elements: : (1) a survey of youth and parents about their beliefs, and  (2) research that will involve visiting churches Read More …